Champions Biotechnology, of Arlington, VA, announced today plans to buy Biomerk, a private company formed just last year to develop its trademark Tumorgrafts, a preclinical platform of human cancer tumor immune-deficient mice xenografts. Biomerk Tumorgrafts, unlike standard cell line derived xenografts, are implanted directly from primary human cancer tumors and never passaged in cell tissue culture. The idea is that this kind of xenograft more closely reflects human cancer biology and is more predictive of clinical outcome. Biomerk has several patent applications relating to xenograft models used for identifying potentially active chemotherapeutic agents.
Champions, which will issue 4,000,000 restricted shares of its common stock to acquire Biomerk, bit for the technology, but also because Biomerk has cash — approximately $475,000 worth. Champions will use the money to cover current operating costs; it will continue to seek additional capital to finance future R&D. It also remains on the lookout for strategic partnerships.
“This acquisition is Champions Biotechnology’s second acquisition since our decision in January 2007 to focus on building a biotechnology company from the ground up as our new business approach,” said CEO James Martell in a press release. (In February 2007, the company acquired the patent rights to two Benzoylphenylurea sulfur analog compounds that have shown promising potent activity against prostate and pancreatic cancer cell lines.) “We are actively engaged in pursuit of additional opportunities to grow and strengthen the company,” said Martell.
That new approach Martell spoke of is to develop a portfolio of new drug candidates through pre-clinical trials and then partner with, sell or license them to other pharma or biotech companies. The goal is to maximize ROI in as short a time frame as possible, compared with the beginning-to-end model where companies oversee the entire drug development process.
Champions is confident that pharma companies will find Biomerk Tumorgrafts attractive because the technology’s predictive capabilities might provide for a faster and less expensive path for drug approvals. The Tumorgrafts can help with evaluating tumor sensitivity and resistance to various chemotherapy agents, potentially eliminating or streamlining portions of the expensive development process.